Every week, we will be publishing our take on the top ten boys and girls basketball teams in San Francisco. Feel free to make your own rankings and discuss ours in the comment section.
1. Sacred Heart Cathedral (28-6)
The Irish have been head and shoulders above the rest of the boys teams in the City all year long, and a trip to the Division III state championship game only reinforced their claim. Sacred Heart had six losses, but in retrospect, had a legitimate shot to go undefeated. The Irish lost the six games by a combined 16 points and their largest margin in a loss was four points in the state championship game against Alemany. With standout senior Joshua Fox and Taylor Johns off to play in college, as well as the loss of starting shooting guard Tyler Petroni, the future for the Irish will be in the hands of their guards, specifically Khalil James and Hermann Pratt, heading into their senior years. The return of Yanoj Jackson should not be overlooked either, as the junior missed all of the 2011-2012 season with a foot injury.
2. Mission (23-11)
The Bears won their third Academic Athletic Association championship in five seasons, but flamed out quickly in an opening-round loss to Center in the Division III state tournament, shattering the dreams of a potential Mission-Sacred Heart NorCal semifinal. Mission head coach Arnold Zelaya is on record stating that he wants to compete with the best in the City — public or private — but the Bears have still failed to take that next step to make a run in the state tournament. Returning seniors Antoine Porter and Kevin Murray will give the Bears one of the best backcourts in the City, but they likely won’t have the length and size advantage they had over many teams this season with Gione Edwards, Shaquile Fisher and walking double-double Miles Prescott lost to graduation.
3. St. Ignatius (11-16)
The Wildcats’ record doesn’t appear to fit in the top three, but they should be our top-ranked team to kick off the 2012-2013 season. With the return of leading-scorer Stephen Domingo for his senior season and highlight-reel point guard Trevor Dunbar for his junior campaign, expectations will again be high for St. Ignatius. That being said, the expectations were high this season and the Wildcats often did not deliver. The highlight for SI was undoubtedly a road win over Serra in The Jungle, but a losing overall and league record likely won’t fly on 37th Avenue next year.
4. Marshall (15-15)
For much of the season, the Phoenix weren’t even in the Top 10. Early losses and a losing record for most of the season didn’t help, but it was also hard to believe that a team that essentially used just five players could be one of the City’s top teams. Marshall played its best at the most important stage of the season, however, advancing to the AAA championship game and nearly beating Cardinal Newman on the road in the first round of the Division IV state tournament. The loss of triple-double threat Mark Alexander will sting a bit, but the Phoenix have arguably the best complete group of guards returning. Questions again will arise, asking if the Phoenix will be able to fill out a roster next season, but time will only tell.
5. Lincoln (20-13)
The Mustangs were the best team during the AAA regular season, but unlike Marshall, when the games started to count the most, Lincoln didn’t play its best. For the second season in a row, Lincoln was upset prior to the AAA championship game, this time to Marshall in the semifinals. The Mustangs will lose their top three scorers (Chris Young, Nick Young and Ares Brown) next season, but will look to develop 6-foot-7 center Seth Snoody, who will be entering his junior season as one of the few big bodies in the City.
6. Riordan (10-15, record after forfeits 5-20)
A paperwork oversight by the Riordan athletic department that led to five forfeits derailed postseason hopes for the Crusaders, but the question mark moving forward for Riordan will continue to be an inside presence that can bang with the tough frontcourts of the West Catholic Athletic League. Geru Mabrey, who will be entering his senior season, can play with any point guard in the City, but will be the lone returning player in the backcourt with Anthony Castillo, D. J. Harvey and Daniel Selsor all graduating.
7. Lick-Wilmerding (18-11)
The Tigers won their first Bay Counties League West title since 2008, but unlike so many other young programs in the league, will lose their entire starting backcourt, with Isaiah Boone, Phillip Stone Jr. and Anthony Shaw all gone to graduation. Lick’s strength will be in their frontcourt with forwards Matthew Bergland (6-foot-5), Benjamin Schneider (6-foot-4) and Andrew Rauch (6-foot-4) all returning for their senior seasons.
8. University (20-13)
Despite a handful of injuries and a roster without a starting senior, the Red Devils still finished at the top of the BCL West standings at the end of the regular season. University will return first-team all-league selections Chris Mah, Harold Getz and David Medoff, as well as second team selection Jack Gale, but they key to their success next season may be the return of forward Will Carroll. Carroll was listed as a captain as a junior this year, but missed the entire season due to a knee injury.
9. Urban (15-11)
The Blues had their first winning season since the 2004-2005 school year and will continue to be a threat in the BCL West with standout guard Nate Cohen and Matthew Monges returning for their senior seasons. Cohen is one of be the most dynamic players in the City, while Monges may be the best pure shooter returning, but Urban will be without outgoing 6-foot-5 center Julian Matulich clogging the lane.
10. Stuart Hall (19-10)
The Knights appeared to be one of the top teams in the BCL West early in the season, but an injury to standout senior guard and leading scorer Tim Connolly after just four league games halted their momentum. Connolly, who averaged 14.7 points per game and also led the Knights in assists and steals, missed the rest of the season after the injury. Stuart Hall will be back in the discussion next season, though, as the next four top scorers will return, headlined by 6-foot-4 forward Armani Collins, who scored 9.6 points per game as a freshman.
The best of the rest: Lowell (19-11), Bay (19-9), Gateway (17-3), Balboa (19-11)